I’ve spent a lot of the last two days on Highway 40 – the historic route across the country built in 1806, according to the many signs I’ve passed. The days on the bike are starting to blend together – the riding itself is no longer the major event of the day, although it is certainly consuming. Perhaps it’s a sign I’m breaking into a rhythm.
This should give you an idea of why I so prefer nicely-paved roads, and why a lack of traffic is such a wonderful luxury, and a hint of the change of scenery since reaching eastern Indiana:
In any case, the towns I’m passing on Hwy 40 are all historic, all-American towns, each with its own post office and library, and a LOT of antique stores, and as I approached Richmond a spattering of motor-lodge style motels cropped up, most of them (sadly?) abandoned. But the highway runs through the middle of town, lined with American flags, and many of the buildings are being repainted and cleaned up, and I’ve enjoyed stopping for water and snack breaks under the trees and at local shops.
My stop in New Castle, IN, was a last-minute, lucky one. Deb was a fantastic warmshowers.org host, welcoming me into her home and even getting me an interview with Rachel Sweeney, her next door neighbor and long-term reporter for Richmond’s daily paper, the Palladium-Item. And as I left Richmond on Thursday morning, the woman who made my sandwich at the Lemont Hotel said, “You’re the yogurt lady!” and pointed out the article that had appeared in the paper that morning.
I arrived at Earlham College in Richmond, IN, at noon on Wednesday, and I navigated the swarms of students heading to lunch, and soon I was set up in the middle of the Heart. Unfortunately approval delayed my set-up until after the lunch rush, but I talked to a handful of curious, enthusiastic students during class changes, and I was surprised by how many already made yogurt, as well as beer, sourdough bread, and kefir.
Then I headed to the Clear Creek Food Co-op in downtown Richmond – a sleepy Rust Belt downtown with plenty of potential for great pedestrian street life but unfortunately no pedestrians. Clear Creek was a great storefront, recently moved from a much smaller location, and I met a couple of local residents but spent most of my time waving at people staring at me as their cars slowly glided by on the street.
My hosts of the evening were also generous to accept my last-minute couch request, and Mark, his wife Hopie, their daughter Lena and exchange student Janeen were so kind and comfortable. Mark even took me on a ride on his amazing electric-assist bike, which Hopie, Lena, and Janeen can all ride together, coasting up hills with barely an effort. Pumping my legs struggling up the smallest hills, and anticipating more hills in the weeks to come, it was thrilling to coast up hills at the slightest turn of my thumb.
On Thursday, climbing past the Interstate and up a long, slow hill into the bright morning sun, I finally passed into Ohio! Oh, and as of Thursday night, in Brookville, OH, my total mileage for the trip has reached 531 miles.